On the drive home from the CUE Rockstar Lake Tahoe conference, my head hurt. Normally, headaches evade me. This time, it didn't feel like a headache. No, it felt like my brain was about to explode. My head felt more like there was a lot of pressure rather than a thumping, pounding pain of agony. This was far different. The scientists out there would debunk my next statement, but it really did feel like my brain was full. Never before have I attended or presented at a conference where I learned so much and made so many connections as I did this week in Lake Tahoe. The drive was well worth it
Learning from my PLN on Twitter has been a heaven-sent for me this year, and it helped immensely to lean on them for support and ideas. I did what I could, created my resources, and it was game time. The whole way up, I was nervous... really nervous. After all, I'll be among GCT's who have been doing this for a number of years. They have a cohort that they've formed and I'm just the lone nut from Southern California. What the hell was I getting myself into?
You know what, that's just what I'm going to treat this as. I'm going to relax, unwind, and enjoy the experience for everything that it has to offer.
During lunch, some people were questioning why we had a full 2 hours to eat. After all, teachers are used to the contractual obligation of a 30-minute lunch. 2 hours is that AND THEN SOME! Instead of counting dots in the ceiling, we set up a Twitter session for beginners. It was nothing short of awesome, showing teachers something that has helped us grow as educators and people.
After the sessions, it was time to decompress. I found CrossFit Avalanche, had a great workout, realized that the elevation is nothing to mess with, then decided to meet up with the presenters and a few attendees for some dinner at the 50/50. Sessions are over, dinner is out, and it's time to relax, right? Wrong. When you sit next to Kevin, Alice, Will, and Juli, you're bound to get an overwhelming dose of educational brilliance. This was the case, learning about new tools to flip my classroom, ways to use FormMule, Doctopus, and other ideas that were "oh-yeah-duh" moments. It was time to retreat back to the room, gather my thoughts, and get ready for Day 2.
For more of Day 1, read Melissa Hero's recap
For Day 2, my session was dedicated to understanding the flipped classroom and finding out how others had flipped theirs. We shared apps, ideas, and plenty of other resources that would help us understand how we flip the classroom. Yes, I had a shameless plug for a book about the flipped classroom that I'm co-authoring. The majority of the discussion was dedicated to gaining an understanding of how the flipped class model varies from teacher to teacher, room to room, and day to day.
The big takeaway from the session was a new app called TouchCast. We explored it and talked about the different ways that we could use it (and others) in the classroom, and it turned into somewhat of a panel discussion about the best tools for the job. When it all came down to the details, it circled back to the idea of giving more time back to the relationship-building with the students.
During lunch, we had a tutorial from Joe about how to take better pictures. We all think that we're great photographers thanks to Instagram, but he talked to us about different apps, ways to share, and ways to take better pictures overall.
We finished up our brief little 4.3 mile hike, headed back tot he 50/50 for another round of great dinner and conversation, then retreated once again to the hotel for a chance to recharge the batteries. Session 3 of Day 2 was laughs, messed up bills, and more sharing of apps and resources.
We had the incredible BBQ during lunch out in the patio area and had more conversations, finished up with another solid session, and got ready to head out. All in all, there wasn't a single speed bump that I ran into that slowed down the train of rockstar talent of the attendees during (or after) the conference sessions.
Takeaways and Thank-You
To Rebecca Maas, you are the grease that keeps the gears turning. The things that you did to set this event up will probably get overlooked, but it went seamless and errorless because of your efforts. I thank you for all that you did to make the conference a success.
To the BBQ crew and support staff that put on the luncheon the last day, I can't thank you enough. We felt welcome and very appreciated. Oh, and the ice cream was a great touch!
The big takeaway from this week was that CUE Rockstar conferences do not imply that the presenters are rockstars. Instead, it is a collection of great teachers from all over the place to come in and share their great ideas. Initially, I was under the impression that I had to put on a rockstar show. When the conference started, I realized that the attendees were the show and I was merely a facilitator of the sessions. It was truly an honor to experience learning in a format like this.
Over 17 hours of driving, almost 1,000 miles, 12 hours of formal sessions, another 6 hours of informal sessions, and it all comes down to this: I can't wait to start the upcoming school year.
I am not a Rockstar because I was selected to present at a conference. I am a Rockstar because I care about the future of my students, surround myself with great people, and engage in the sharing and collaboration of great ideas.